In this episode, I talk with Joe Crabb of Woodside Bible Church about student ministry and youth ministry in the summer. Typically, youth ministry takes a break during the summer when students are off from school. However, Joe and his team have decided to leverage that time and lean in during the season when students have the most free time. We have a great conversation about what it looks like to practically plan and execute that strategy, and the vision behind it.

Joe Crabb

Connect with Joe on Twitter and Instagram


Woodside Bible Church

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Woodside Students Summer Game Plan – An overview of Woodside's strategy for youth ministry in the summer with specific event and structural details

Oasis Summer 2017 SGL Brief – The document that Woodside distributes to its middle school small group leaders, outlining all of summer programming

Wake Summer 2017 SGL Brief – The document that Woodside distributes to its high school small group leaders, outlining all of summer programming

What Does “Alignment” look Like in the Summer? (blog post) – Joe walks through summer programming details and talks about the alignment between campuses that occurs, as well as the ownership given to each campus during this season

What Does Small Group Leader Commitment Look Like? (blog post) – Check out Joe's thoughts on the new commitment his church is asking small group leaders to make because of their different approach to summer

Episode 14: EJ Swanson on Teaching Students and Leading NextGen (podcast) – EJ shares what he has learned when it comes to teaching and discipling students, and what he's learned leading NextGen across twelve campuses

Youth Ministry in the Summer: Hype, Service, and Relationships

  1. Text message devotional
  2. Begin social media campaign: Every Monday, students are asked to repost or use a certain hashtag. The school and grade with the most shares receives frozen yogurt, doughnuts, or snowcones
  3. Throw a block party on the last day of school with gaga ball tournaments, trophies, bubble soccer, and more fun
  4. Meet up at a restaurant once a week for Tasty Thursdays
  5. Mission trips launch mid-summer and students serve in the community, as well as at the church's kids' camp
  6. End the summer with an emphasis on building relationships and preparing students for small groups in the fall

Woodside Youth Ministry During the Rest of the Year

  • Runs September-May
  • Middle school meets Wednesday evenings and high school meets Thursday evenings
  • Small group time, worship, and games
  • Winter retreat for middle school, fall retreat for high school
  • Middle school meets for Sunday morning worship

EJ's episode: how to teach students and leading next gen ministry

Action Items

  1. Take one idea that Joe shared, and try it this summer
  2. Lean into the relational opportunities more than the large, scheduled events

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Next Episode: Ellen Stumbo

In the next episode, I talk with Ellen Stumbo about how to best serve families with special needs. Ellen shares her experience working with churches and her family's own personal story. We then have a great conversation about key principles surrounding special needs ministry, practical ways to put a special needs framework in places, and specific ideas that you can apply to better serve the families at your church.